The Duchess of Langeais

Ne touchez pas la hache

Don’t Touch the Axe

"A nearly impeccable work of art - beautiful, true, profound." — Manohla Dargis, NY Times
Director: Jacques Rivette
Year: 2007
Country: France
Running time: 137 mins
France/Italy
Screenplay: Jacques Rivette, Pascal Bonitzer, Christine Laurent. Based on the novella by Honoré de Balzac
Photography: William Lubtchansky
Editor: Nicole Lubtchansky
Music: Pierre Allio
In French with English subtitles
PG sexual references

With: Jeanne Balibar, Guillaume Depardieu, Bulle Ogier, Michel Piccoli, Barbet Schroeder

Festivals: Berlin, Toronto, Vancouver, London 2007
Jacques Rivette’s adaptation of Balzac’s tale of drawing room passion is superbly played by two strikingly odd actors, Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu. She’s the aristocratic Antoinette, a seasoned coquette who mocks the awkward courtship of her socially clumsy suitor, a Napoleonic General and war hero. Pushing him too far, she finds herself becoming the pursuer. Though grounded in the theatricality of the salon and the mores of another time, the drama of unresolved mutual addiction is constantly startling and utterly persuasive in its psychological veracity. — BG.

“Poised and incandescent, this was one of the year’s great acting films, with Jeanne Balibar staking her place as one of the great screen performers of the moment… A film that’s entirely classic, yet entirely new and, more importantly, alive.“ — Jonathan Romney, Sight & Sound.

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